They say it takes somewhere between 20-60 days to build a new habit. Actually, apparently it’s all about repetition count. Regardless, the point is we’ve all spent the past 30 days building new habits…lots and lots of new habits! It’s been exhausting, stressful, and all we want is to just go back to “normal!” However, we have a golden opportunity to keep some much better habits and we’ve already paid the price, all we have to do is not “go back to normal.”
So, let’s look at some of the good habits we’ve been building:
- Washing your hands for 20 seconds, a lot. Incidentally, this was always a good idea, especially after going to the bathroom.
- Talking to real people about real issues, feelings, concerns, and life. It turns out there were other people out there in the world who were important to us after all. Let’s keep connected to them after this is all over.
- Going shopping less often. Budgeting people have documented for a long time that the more often you shop each month the more you spend. Many of us have started going shopping weekly or less. What a great habit to keep. It’s more efficient for time and money.
- Telecommuting. So many people have figured out that they can actually work from home and be just as productive, or maybe even more productive, than working in an office. Keep this up! It’s better for the environment, can give you more time in your day, make you more productive, and save money on commuting.
- Extended Family Zoom meetings. Many of us have families scattered across the nation. Both my family and my wife’s family did family Zoom meetings for Easter. In the case of my family, it was our first all family Easter gathering in years. Why not do this every year, and for birthdays too?
- Social Distancing from sick people. Again, why haven’t we always done this? Why was it socially acceptable to cough or sneeze on your hand and then give someone a firm handshake or warm embrace. Seriously people, that’s disgusting. Let’s stop.
- Family Dinners. Who knew, you have a family, and you all have to eat dinner. Apparently you can have family dinner together at home around that circular piece of wood that used to be called a Dining Room Table. It’s much healthier and less expensive that going out to eat every night or having TV dinners.
- Appreciating People. We’ve been doing a great job of thanking people: cashiers, doctors, nurses, teachers. Let’s keep doing it. These people serve us day in and day out. A simple thank you goes a long way!
Now, let’s talk about some habits that we need to build/rebuild when this is all over:
- Seeing your grandparents. Unless your grandparents are way more modern than ours, you really need to go back to seeing them in person. If you had a habit of doing this periodically before the pandemic, go back to it. If you didn’t, it would be great to start after the pandemic is over.
- Touching people. Many scientific studies have shown that people benefit from physical touch. Hopefully you all are touching your kids and spouse more already, but let’s go back to embraces and handshakes with friends and family…who are healthy of course.
- Group celebrations. Those birthday parties that we skipped…let’s go back to having those. Getting together in person with people is a wonderful thing for all of our emotional well-being.
- Patronizing local businesses. Sadly many of us have had to turn to online shopping to stay safe during this season. Let’s get back to patronizing our local businesses as soon as we can so we can help them survive and thrive.
Hopefully these are some helpful ideas. Studies have shown that people don’t change their habits, even when they want to, because change is painful. You’ve already gone through the pain, so keep the new habits that are beneficial.